Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Primate Species Found In 42 Million-year-old Texas Fossils

Date:
April 13, 2007
Source:
Lamar University
Summary:
Scientists have discovered a new genus and species of primate, one long vanished from the earth but preserved in the fossil record.

Artist's depiction of Eocene Texas coastal habitat, with the newly discovered primate (Paralomys) inset.
Credit: Art by Abby Salazar

Something old is now something new, thanks to Lamar University researcher Jim Westgate and colleagues. The scientists' research has led to the discovery of a new genus and species of primate, one long vanished from the earth but preserved in the fossil record.

Westgate is a professor of earth and space sciences at Lamar and a research associate in the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory, Texas Natural Science Center, University of Texas-Austin. He and his research colleagues, Dana Cope, professor of anthropology, College of Charleston, and Chris Beard, curator, Vertebrate Paleontology Section, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, announced their discovery at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in Philadelphia, Pa., Thursday, March 29.

Molar, pre-molar and incisor teeth from the new primate genus and three other new primate species were recovered from 42 million-year-old tropical, mangrove palm swamp deposits of the Eocene age Laredo Formation exposed in Lake Casa Blanca International State Park in Laredo.

The association of primate fossils with the skeletal remains of oysters, sharks, rays, giant aquatic snakes and crocodiles, along with mangrove palm fruits and pollen, indicates that the middle Eocene shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico lay 150 miles inland of its present position, Westgate said.

The team is preparing detailed manuscripts describing the new Omomyid primates. One of the spoils of discovering a new species is the opportunity to give it a name. The formal name of the new genus, which means "primate of the coastal lagoons", will be released at publication time, Westgate said.

Omomyids (members of the extinct taxon Omomyidae) lived 34 to 50 million years ago during the Eocene Epoch and were one of two groups of known Eocene primates. The other, adapids, were more lemur-like. Fossils of these Eocene primates have been found in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. The Eocene primates are the earliest known primates.

Omomyids had large eye orbits, long grasping fingers and short snouts. They weighed around one kilogram, or close to two pounds and were likely nocturnal, with large eyes for seeing better at night. Like most modern-day primates, the omomyids used their long fingers for climbing. They had small mouths, and it is likely that insects were a part of their regular diet.

The presence of a diverse primate community with four species living on the Texas coast during late middle Eocene time is significant because at that time primate diversity in the northern interior of North America had diminished greatly because of global climatic cooling and uplifting of the Rocky Mountains, Westgate said. The tropical environment on the Texas coast appears to have allowed primates to thrive locally while their relatives in the continental interior faced near extinction.

Lamar University, the University of Texas Geology Foundation, the National Geographic Society and the Geological Society of America provided funds for field excavations in Laredo.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Lamar University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Lamar University. "New Primate Species Found In 42 Million-year-old Texas Fossils." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 April 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070409161526.htm>.
Lamar University. (2007, April 13). New Primate Species Found In 42 Million-year-old Texas Fossils. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070409161526.htm
Lamar University. "New Primate Species Found In 42 Million-year-old Texas Fossils." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070409161526.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins